Listening to Sea Lions

Listening to Sea Lions : Currents of Change from Galapagos to Patagonia

By (author) Sarah Keene Meltzoff , By (author) Meg Ragland


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From the Galapagos to the depths of Patagonia and up along the stark desert coast of Chile, Listening to Sea Lions empathic ethnography carries the reader directly into the heart of the ocean world of Latino coastal people. Sea lions are the fellow denizens in nature who share the perpetual changes and are seen as metaphoric selves. Meltzoff uses storytelling rather than explicit theory to help explain local struggles and survival strategies wrought by extreme El Nino events and shifting political climates. Embedded within the six multi-sited ethnographies are global themes in coastal communities, from boom-and-bust fisheries to the rivalries among fisheries, tourism, conservation interests. The overall picture is sea-change and impermanence as a local way of life by the ocean.

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  • Hardback | 292 pages
  • 154.94 x 226.06 x 25.4mm | 680.39g
  • 14 Dec 2012
  • AltaMira Press,U.S.
  • California
  • English
  • 0759122350
  • 9780759122352

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Author Information

Sarah Keene Meltzoff is associate professor, Department of Marine Affairs and Policy, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Florida.

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Review quote

I highly recommend Sarah Meltzoff's book, a fantastically rich ethnography drawn from a quarter century of fieldwork, visits, and relationships along the western coast of South America. It provides a powerful account of the long-term issues affecting coastal communities and the marine resources they depend upon...This book is necessary reading for scientists, professionals, students, and officials on all sides of the fisheries spectrum...Meltzoff favours clarity and lightness of prose, which make it very accessible. This is a powerful asset of this work, as marine issues are transdisciplinary by nature and there is an urgent need for such extensive research to be read by a wide variety of scholars, practitioners, and students...The book effortlessly includes reflections on the process of ethnographic research and is thus also an excellent resource for teaching ethnographic methodology. Journal Of The Royal Anthropological Institute Listening to Sea Lions is an appealing and unusual book, a welcome addition to the rapidly growing literature on environmental change and its complex implications for humans. Through her perceptive observations, her intimate knowledge of the people she discusses, and her long-term empathic commitment to their communities and the harsh environmental realities they often face, Sarah Keene Meltzoff is able to carve a personal, warm, and highly engaging story. Her text is clear, devoid of jargon and unnecessary abstractions, at times poetic and moving, taking the reader on tour with the author through a series of important sites, never far from the coast. Margaret Mead - Meltzoff's early mentor who kindly initiated this tour - did a great job! -- Gisli Palsson, University of Iceland This is an extraordinarily well written and unique book, one that could only be penned by an senior anthropologist The product of more than twenty-five years of fieldwork in South America, its focus sheds light on many of the central issues in Marine anthropology: marine tenure, commons, conflicts between inshore and offshore fishers, state regulatory policies, joint management, the effects of ENSO events and climatic change on fisheries... Beyond its insightful set of ethnographies of fishing, this book is also an excellent introduction to the ethnographer's art. Meltzoff skill as a writer shines through... The prose is fluid and elegant. She has a gift for descriptive writing that she uses like a novelist to paint scenes, depict events, and draw characters. -- James B. Greenberg, University of Arizona

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